Three hundred days in Indonesia has earned me the right to draw clichés stemming from mountains and life. I’ve been hiking a lot recently. I’ve been hiking mountains. And been hiking a separate journey in my mind. I’d slipped a few times, fallen on my bum. Sometimes uncomfortably cold. Hungry. Feeling defeated… but in the good way (!) because I’ve always managed to get back up. Dragging my exhausted body up a mountain and back down again is in itself an impressive feat. Proof that my mind is everything and that whatever I focus my on doing, my body will keep its promise to follow, even if it seems impossible. No matter how many deranged scenarios that I’ve mentally invented during hiking of ‘what if I just threw myself over this cliff so I don’t have to hike back down?’ or ‘how much money would I pay for a gondola to bring me back down?’, I’ve always made it.
Since vacation ended, I’d felt like I was resuming where I’d left off on my mentally demanding journey, with intense waves of loneliness following in the wake, overwhelmed with feeling isolated, restricted to the boundaries of my village, and overwhelmed with the concept of time–and how I should change the way I’d been perceiving it to prevent having an existential crisis. I say this because since November, I’d lost track of living in the present, there were too many exciting countdowns to various reunions and events to keep me focused and just still. I don’t want to look back on my Peace Corps experience as one I spent counting down. I’ve spent too much time counting down until Peace Corps!
Over winter break my first year in college, I got the worst fever that I can remember, so horrible that I started hallucinating in my sleep. I still vividly remember waking up, crying, still hallucinating, and pacing my house while my mom attempted to calm me down. I was hallucinating about building this massive skyscraper-like structure by myself while entrapped in this labyrinth of never-ending wooden scaffolding. It was so overwhelming that I couldn’t sleep alone for a few nights. For a while I was looking at my experience here as just a big picture, creating lists of ideas I wanted to accomplish. Just like my fever-induced hallucination, thinking this way can be really overwhelming and make me feel pusing (dizzy). Like looking at a mountain as a whole from afar rather than rationally contemplating the attainable and realistic steps it takes to reach the peak. And understanding that I don’t have to do it alone or keep being so hard on myself. I’m only one person. I was thinking, just because I love hiking doesn’t mean I have to be amazing at it, breaking records, and doing it like it ain’t no thang. I’m allowed to go at my own pace as long as I keep my promise. I realize every day how young I still am and how I’ve still got a world ahead of me to continue discovering, and though I won’t face the same challenges that I do here, overcoming difficulties doesn’t ever stop, it just gets more complicated, the little struggles here are only making me stronger. There may be immunizations for many other nasty diseases known to man but occasional sulking, feeling like an outcast, and being an emotional nutcase is part of being a PCV. Beautiful and ironic, isn’t it?
I’m not having any sort of crisis like this post may imply, in fact I’ve been having a really solid run these past few weeks since getting back into the normal swing of things. However my body has been aching like I just got hit by a train since climbing nearby Mt. Penanggungan with my wonderful KeJombaKerto cluster-mates (they rock, for realz) last weekend.
My host sisters have been laughing at me hobbling around the house like an eighty year-old. And I’ve been [unhealthily] avoiding drinking as much water as I usually do for fear of getting stuck in the squat position or worse, getting stuck in the bathroom in the squat position! It’s been suggested I see the masseuse (on which account I texted the village masseuse who replied that she needed her own masseuse *FAIL*), and there’s been other explicit conversations about massages in general, initiated by some goofy teachers who have their minds stuck in other places…Four days after the hike and I can finally walk around without wanting to cry.
Other than the normal PCV mood-swings, everything’s been going well: tutorin’ the kids, developin’ my potential secondary project with other teachers, gettin’ asked to visit different schools’ events, paintin’ a world map at school, and still gettin’ asked unique questions on the reg, gem of the week: Do you have the Dalai Lama’s Facebook or e-mail address? (UHHHH I WISH I DID! Certainly I’d have many of life’s bewildering questions answered by now. I wonder if the Dalai Lama is that technologically in-tune?)